You guys. I am SO in love with Hillary Manton Lodge’s third novel, A Table by the Window: A Novel of Family Secrets and Heirloom Recipes. I’m being super serious when I say that I probably would have posted about it on my blog even if I had just picked up a copy at the library myself. Instead though, I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books Program.
Heirloom recipes, family secrets…and a chance for love.
The youngest heir to a French-Italian restaurant dynasty, food writer Juliette D’Alisa has spent her life negotiating her skill with words and her restaurant aspirations. When her brother Nico offers her a chance to open a restaurant together, she feels torn—does she really have what it takes? Should she risk leaving her journalism career?
After the death of her grandmother, Juliette discovers an antique photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her brother. As the truth behind the picture reveals romance and dark secrets, Juliette struggles to keep the mystery away from her nosy family until she can uncover the whole story.
Inspired by her grandmother’s evolving story, Juliette resolves to explore the world of online dating. To her surprise, she finds a kindred spirit in Neil McLaren, a handsome immunologist based in Memphis, Tennessee. With a long-distance relationship simmering, Juliette faces life-shifting decisions. How can she possibly choose between a promising culinary life and Neil, a man a world away in more ways than one? And is it possible her Grandmother’s story can help show the way?
And as usual, my five point review:
- I’m hard pressed to think of something that I didn’t like about this book. It was lovely… so well written and with such engaging characters! If you like food and romance and mystery and culture and comedy, you’ll find something to love about this book. Don’t be too concerned that it is Christian fiction. God and faith are discussed, but without lots of fluff, and the characters are real. Their problems don’t get solved in an instant just because they prayed. That’s not how it happens most of the time in real life, and that’s not how this book goes either. It is very genuine and down to earth.
- I loved Juliette. She’s friendly and likeable, but also very smart and cultured. She’s well read, witty, brave, and energetic. She’s driven and family oriented, traits that serve her well [while also causing internal conflict as plot events shake out]. As much as I love the single Juliette, I adore how her character grows as she gets to know Neil. Good, healthy relationships are like that, and though theirs isn’t easy or normal Neil really helps her become more herself in many ways.
- The author’s writing is just amazing. She’s so poetic and does a fabulous job balancing modern, cultural references [read: internet dating] with charming French or Italian words/phrases. She references literature too, which I love. Everything isn’t explained to the precise detail either [a common occurrence in some Christian writing that drives me nuts]. And for once, this isn’t a predictable novel!! 🙂 YES! In fact, it ends on a cliffhanger. I can’t wait for the next installment to come out!
- Another reason I loved this novel was that Juliette includes some of her [errr Hillary’s] recipes. The hot chocolate sounds wonderful! I want to make it this winter. 🙂 I think they all sound really good, actually.
- All in all, this was a great book. It has so many elements that I love–a character I adore and wish I could hang out with in real life, faith, cooking, travel… it was just perfect! Though I might not have family I can go visit in Europe, it’s fun to live through someone else, and you can certainly do that through Juliette! Thanks, Hillary, for such a great novel. I can’t wait to read part two!
What are you reading lately?
Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the chance to read this great book!